Aamir Khan who brought the plight of the Chanderi weavers to light while promoting 3 Idiots last December, is planning to take the cause further.
He wants to explore starting a retailing outlet to help these weavers sell their exquisite saris and fabrics. The actor-producer is determined to prevent this skilled art from from dying prematurely.
Khan admits that he had only vaguely heard of Chenderi saris from the ladies in his family till Sayeeda Hamid who was with the Planning Commission two years ago, approached him for help for these artisans whose earnings had dropped drastically and many of them were going into manual labour like stone-breaking and road-making to make ends meet.
While travelling across the country in different guises as part of a reality game show, Khan visited a weaver’s house in Chanderi as himself and was distressed to see how these craftsmen were being exploited.
“Weaving is a part of Indian culture and needs are support,” asserts the star who roped in co-actor Kareena Kapoor, a fashion icon herself, to join hands with him.
Elaborating on his plans of starting a retail outlet, Khan says, “One of the saris I bought, was made by two weavers over a period of three months. In the market, it is sold for Rs 25,000. But these guys get only Rs 6500 for it. The amount is shared between them which means each weaver gets as little as Rs 3250, which is about Rs 1000 a month and Rs 35 a day. Agreed that the marketing middleman is expected to make some profit but there should still be a more equitable distribution of the earnings. If these weaver stop making the saris, how will anyone buy them?”
Khan has discussed the idea with designer Sabyasachi Mukherji and plans to become a wholesaler for bunkers (weavers) across the country. I don’t know if the plan is feasible but I’d certainly like to explore it and see if we push it through,” he asserts.